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Tree Mortality and Damage Interactions: Insights from the Multi-Site ForestGEO

Speaker: Dr. Daniel Zuleta, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute

Tropical forests play a critical role in the global carbon cycle and are of utmost importance for the world’s biodiversity. Yet, large uncertainties remain on how these forests will respond to ongoing global environmental changes. This uncertainty is largely attributed to spatial variation in woody residence times (i.e., tree mortality), which occur more abruptly compared to tree growth and recruitment. But the drivers and mechanisms of tree mortality are poorly understood.

In 2016, the Forest Global Earth Observatory (ForestGEO) and the Next Generation Ecosystem Experiments Tropics (NGEE-Tropics) established a series of standardized annual mortality and damage censuses across multiple tropical forests in order to identify the main factors associated with tree mortality and better estimate biomass stocks and fluxes in tropical forests.

In this seminar, Daniel Zuleta will discuss the main challenges of studying tree mortality and present current advances from the ForestGEO monitoring program. He will present results on the relative importance of multiple tree-level factors involved in tree death, the physiological consequences of tree damage, and their implications for aboveground biomass dynamics in tropical forests.